Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
Fall has risen from the earth
like Lazarus. The dogwood in the backyard
remembers its flowers. The sky’s throat is raw
with wood smoke and small regrets.
I have slept beneath quilts in third floor
apartments. I have scribbled endings
on tables with chopsticks and pretended
there is still time for funerals and baptisms.
Let winter come. Let the water freeze
dark and opaque. I will find
new reasons to wait
in the persistent whiteness of snow.
He undresses the apple’s heart
with a knife. His hands
are knowledgeable, palming the meat
without slipping. Slowly
a pile of red skin grows on the table,
like snow or eyelashes unattached
to a wish. I watch, scraping
a thumb along my own knife idly
as if trying to peel the whorls from it cell
by cell. He finishes
and cubes what is left, then
gathers it into the pot with the rest of the apple chunks
browning with oxidation. I
am not used to seeing him
so gentle, his fingers so careful.
I am used to seeing these fingers grip shovels
and beer bottles, hammers and leather belts.
Now he adds water, sugar, a pinch
of cinnamon, takes the pot
to the stove. In an hour, we
will eat applesauce with silver
spoons, slurp it too hot in the backyard
until it cools with the setting sun. We will stand
beneath the trees whose swollen fruit
we coaxed into sweetness, and he
will charge his hands with a new
task, cradling his bowl like
a bird’s nest, his tongue licking sugar from his knuckles
until they are slick and shining.